One thing I like about Japan is that they eat seasonally. When we arrived at the beginning of May, the produce shops were filled with strawberries. I couldn't get strawberries if I wanted them now. In the fall, it is persimmons and chestnuts. A week ago, I had no idea what to do with either of them. I still don't know what to do with a persimmon, but I learned about chestnuts. There is a chestnut tree next door to us that hangs over our yard, so we have been gathering chestnuts (kuri). It is magical. They drop from the tree in these green, spiky balls, and after a time, the balls dry up, split open, and out pops a beautiful, mahogany colored chestnut (or, um, chestnut colored chestnut, I guess you could say....). The kids like to help gather them, and Beaver pretends he is a pirate and the chestnuts are treasure. It really feels that way. Gathering chestnuts makes me want to sing praises to Heaven. It is delightful enough when something I have cultivated produces fruit, but there is something even more wonderful about it when I can gather food to eat from wild vegetation. It fills me with wonder. At least, that is how I felt about it up until yesterday.
Yesterday, I attempted to make kurigohan - chestnuts in rice. From what I understand, it is a popular and very traditional autumn dish. First the chestnuts must be peeled. So, to soften the shells, I boiled them in water, and then left them to soak for about an hour. That is what fujimama said to do. The next step was simply to peel them, sprinkle them with sugar to help them retain their color, and then toss them in with your rice to cook. Sounds so simple! It was almost bedtime for the kids, but I had about 20 minutes that I could use to get the chestnuts peeled, so I went to work. An hour later, I had burned fingers (because they are easier to peel when hot), major carpal tunnel, and maybe eight of the thirty or so chestnuts peeled. Add to that a fussing three-year-old, and I had gone from singing praises to muttering curses. Fujimama recommended putting the chestnuts in the freezer for a few hours before cooking them, so I shoved my eight little chestnuts into a freezer bag, threw them in the freezer, and there they still sit. I threw the remaining cooked chestnuts over the wall in the backyard, and took the rest of the uncooked ones to my Japanese neighbor.
In other news:
Beaver's Preschool Sports Day
Obstacle Race - this was Beaver's favorite
Ball gathering game
(after the kids beat the teachers at tug-of-war)
Receiving his medal
Another Beaver tidbit: Lately when his big brother is doing something that he doesn't like, he comes to me and says, "Bear doesn't trust me. He's not trusting me."